Thursday, February 9, 2012

What I'm going to do differently

Second children are like do-overs, right? You do everything wrong on the first kid, and then you try to get it right on the second. (Only to find, most likely, that the second kid is so completely different that nothing you learned on the first kid is any good.) I'm hoping that by the tenth kid, I know what I'm doing.

Here's a short list of a few things I want to do differently this time around:

1. Home birth. I'm going to have a home birth, and it's going to be perfect, of course. (I am practicing thinking only positive things about it, in the hopes of at least not being scared. If I thought it was going to be like Marko's birth, I'd be dreading it.) Home birth means a lot of things are automatically different. I will not be waaaaay out of my element. I won't be confined to bed. I won't have my water artificially broken. I will be able to eat and drink if I want to. I will be able to get in the bath or shower if I want to. I won't have any monitors (except for a friendly midwife with a stethoscope). I will not have to yell at the doctor not to do an episiotomy. I won't get any internal exams that I didn't ask for. And as for my greatest dread, having my baby taken away at birth -- the midwives just laughed when I asked them. "We don't cut the cord for at least half an hour," they said, "so it would be hard for us to take your baby away. Besides, where would we take him?"

2. Breastfeeding's going to go so much better. I mean, it can hardly fail to, seeing as I now know what I'm doing. And since I'll have the baby right away, we'll be able to try to nurse right away. Odds are very good that the baby will be nursing within an hour of birth. If not -- this time I have a lot more knowledge and heaps of support. I hope to nurse this one longer, as long as I'm not pregnant.

3. I'm not going to have my in-laws over right away, but instead awhile later. That way I can have some time to bond with my new baby. When they do come -- in fact, when anyone visits -- I won't be shy about nursing my own baby in my own house. I can't believe I felt myself banished to the bedroom to nurse when Marko was a week old. I now know that none of our guests would have minded if I'd stayed in the living room, and I would have been a heck of a lot more comfortable and less lonely.

4. I'm going to teach that baby to nurse lying down right away, so I can actually get some rest. (I did try with Marko, but we had too many issues.) And I don't think I'll fuss around with a bassinet -- I want to cosleep from day one. I'll set up the sidecar crib and have the baby right there for nighttime nursing. The short period of time when I coslept with Marko -- even though he wouldn't nurse lying down, and even though he didn't sleep as well next to me because he wasn't used to it -- was the time in his life I've gotten the most sleep. And now that I know that starting your kid off in his own bed does not make him a good sleeper, I am not going to bother. I sacrificed so much sleep when he was a newborn so that I could give him good sleep habits and reap the rewards later, and here he is still waking at night.

5. Speaking of sleep habits, I'm going to ignore what everyone told me and just nurse that kid to sleep. Every kid has a sleep association. Nursing is one that is available anytime, anywhere, and in any position. Marko's is motion. Turns out that's not half as easy as nursing ... and the bigger he gets, the less easy it is. Plus, you always have to shift him into bed once he's asleep. When you nurse to sleep, you can do it lying down and then roll away -- so there's not this drastic shift when they realize they're not in the rocking chair anymore. (Of course, they might still be mad when they wake and you're not there anymore ... but it's a smaller difference than being in a completely different place that isn't moving.) And as for putting a baby down awake in his crib? I might give it a shot, but I'm not sold on the idea. It really never worked for Marko, and I did try. Besides, then they have to have their crib. It was nice to be able to travel with Marko and have him still fall asleep just fine.

6. I'm going to babywear a lot more. This isn't because of any deep philosophical reason -- I just realize I'm going to have to be up and moving a lot more, and I may as well make the baby happy at the same time. When Marko was tiny, I was usually sitting down and didn't have anything particular to do while wearing him. And babies hate being worn when you're sitting still. He loved being in the wrap at work, though. This one is just bound to get a lot more babywearing time ... and who knows, maybe it will help him or her be more relaxed.

7. I'm going to be very aware of my diet so I can nip any food sensitivities in the bud right away. I might try going gluten-free, even, because I hear if mom is gluten-sensitive, it can cause fussiness in the baby if she eats gluten. And lately gluten has been giving me awful gas, except when it's in sourdough. (And a little even then.) It might be better just not to chance it. Not sure on that one. In any event, I'll probably keep a food diary and see if I can track down anything that seems to cause fussiness.

8. I really want to start elimination communication from day one, or at least from month one. I find it much easier than diapers, and it's really fun to reach that level of communication with a baby.

Other than that, I think I'll do things about the same! Marko and I have always had a very good rapport, and I'd like to develop the same with this baby, figuring out what his or her signals mean and responding right away. I also hope to take just as many pictures (if I can only get my camera fixed!) and dote on this one just as much. I know now what I didn't then -- that the tiny baby stage passes in about four seconds and I'd better soak it in while it lasts. (And if it's awful, that too will pass fast.)

Do you think I'm expecting too much? Did you parent each child a little differently?


Jessica said...

Sheila - you won't remember me, but I met you through Meghan Portner many years ago. :)

Congratulations on your pregnancy! You have my prayers - especially that you are able to have a homebirth!!

Anonymous said...

What an exciting time! I hope the home birth is a great experience for you. I think your expectations for number two are very realistic. In my experience, it is much more difficult to be a first time mom than a mom of two, or even three (that is how many we have so far). I think the biggest difference in my parenting at this point is my confidence as a mom. I am (usually) able to let criticism roll of my back and know that I am doing what is best for our family. I have not ruined any of my kids by co-sleeping, nursing to sleep, or any of the other million things my MIL and other random people are horrified by. I used to be very sensitive, and try to justify all of my parenting decisions to all of my critics. Now I just smile and say, "Thanks, this is what my husband and I find works best for us." You seem like a great mom, and I really enjoy reading your blog. Prayers for you and your growing family.

Sheila said...

Jessica, I do remember meeting you! I don't remember anything about the circumstances, but I do remember that I finally got to meet Meghan's legendary friend Jess.

Anon, we are lucky in our family: I have gotten virtually no criticism at all from anyone. My mom is more AP than I am, and my in-laws all think I'm just the best mom ever and ask me lots of questions. I think it's made a huge difference in my confidence as a mom to know that I had the support of those close to me.

Momsomniac said...

Every child has different needs. It sounds like you are prepared to take a what works approach.

#3 had less AP than #1 and #2 - I think maybe am just getting old for it and he was just so big (and I am so small), but I hoarded my private bonding time with him.

I had to supplement my nursing, but managed to keep nursing #1 and #3 until they were 2+ years.

Would have loved to have nursed #2, but it just wasn't an option. I did pump some milk for him after #3 was born and let him try to nurse a few times. That was as much for me as for him - for me, so I could tell him that being adopted didn't mean I made no effort to get him that benefit - even if we couldn't have that bonding.

Best parenting advice I was ever given was "do what works." Of course, that means what works for the child AND you. : )

If you find the co-sleeper isn't working for you, you may want to try a basinette right next to your bed for the first few months. That worked well for me until #1 and 3 were about 3 months old.

We used a co-sleeper too with 2 and 3, but only 2 really slept in it. 3 wanted to be right under my arm.

Night nursing was exhausting but I loved being able to nurse my babies to sleep. Not doing it seemed silly to me - I understand the advice, but you have this GREAT way to get them to sleep - why not use it? : )

And we had great training from #1 - he had super high needs, plus growth problems, which turned out to be a good thing. #3 felt like a cake walk!

Tawny said...

Nursing lying down is the greatest thing ever. Both kids we have not been nearly as sleep deprived as we thought we would be thanks to nursing in and falling asleep together.

Sarah Faith said...

I'm excited for your baby to be born! :) I have 6 so far and have been 6 different parents. :) lol

Enbrethiliel said...


Sheila I love your learning curve . . . if only because it means I can take advantage of all the wisdom and sense in this post for my own homebirth! (As you can see, I'm trying to be as amazingly optimistic as you, planning for the birth before I've even "locked down" a boyfriend! LOL!)

Sheila said...

Momsomniac, I do have a bassinet, and that's what we used with Marko. I used to sit on the edge of the bed trying not to fall asleep while I nursed him four times a night. That worked kind of okay until he started having trouble staying asleep when I tried to put him back in the bassinet ... ugh. But even at the beginning, it was a lot of wide-awake time in the middle of the night.

Tawny, I hope that's how it is for us too!

Enbrethiliel ... go ahead and be optimistic! I don't know how the health care system works where you live -- America is kind of in the dark ages as regards maternity care, so you may get a better deal anyway -- but the more knowledge you have going into childbirth (and marriage, and pretty much everything else) the more prepared you'll be.

Momsomniac said...

Oh - I didn't use the basinette like that. I would have been WIPED out!!! Okay - I was wiped out - I would have been a zombie! : )

I always brought my babies out of the bassinette when it was time for the first night nursing - I'd lay back down to nurse them and we'd go back to sleep cuddled up together for the rest of the night.

I liked it because it gave me an opportunity for 2-6 hours of DEEP sleep, meeting no needs but my own, depending on which baby it was (#1 never slept for more than 2 hours at a stretch unless he was cuddled in the bed with me:). But it was never an all-night place to sleep. In fact, the only time son 3 slept all night in it, I couldn't sleep, because I couldn't stop checking on him (and I'd wonder how people who sleep apart from their babies ever rest!?: )

The co-sleeper is nifty when it works, because you don't even have to sit up to get the baby in your arms. It was just sort of pointless for us, other than as reliable bed rail, with #3. With #2 it gave him a way to escape from us while we were still nearby. Though not all foster-to-adopt programs will allow co-sleepers, it is recommended. I thought it was so we could cuddle & bond, but after our experience, it might be as much for allowing the child SPACE while still having the parent *visibly* nearby.

Best to you. You are so engaged in this - intellectually, emotionally, spiritually - it's going to be great! I can hardly wait to read about who your #2 turns out to be!

Sheila said...

Oh, I see. That would be easier. I like the cosleeper in part because it acts as a bedrail and increases our bed space. We only have a queen, so we needed not to be worrying about staying away from the edge. Sometimes I ended up in the crib part myself!

We may end up using the bassinet for just a little bit, though, because we still haven't gotten Marko a new bed. He sleeps on the crib mattress, on the floor. I want to get him a big-boy bed, but since I want something that's going to last him a good long time, it'll take a bit of effort ... and probably cash.

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